Skylines are the broadest outlines seen from the ground. They can be produced by the topography of a town, or by the overall construction of a city, or by human interference from the sky which forms the basis of irregular urban grid patterns where the sky touches the ground or other urban structures. The modern skyline today owes a great deal to man-made inventions that have made buildings more accessible from the sky and which have also increased the ability of man to produce structures of all kinds at a rapid rate, from houses and monuments to skyscrapers. This form of urbanization has made the modern world much more crowded than it was in ancient times, even though each individual family owns property in its own town or region. Skylines are now seen everywhere, on streets, on motorways and in the sky.
Over time the skyline has evolved into a much more complex and detailed shape. It now takes the shape of a circle and is made up of different components, all of which add to the visual appeal of the skyline. Straight lines are less prominent and many curved lines are used instead. Different colors are used to accentuate these components and to mark the position of different structures in the skylines, making them seem more real.
Aerial photography has provided us with some of the most exquisite images of our earth. The challenge therefore for the photographer is to capture the subtle relationship of various parts of the skyline to each other and the overall landscape, and to produce an image that inspires awe and a curiosity to the viewer. A line drawing of the actual aerial line between two places on the ground can serve as an effective guide in creating an aerial photo and this allows the photographer to concentrate more on the fine details of the actual aerial view. Lines drawn on the ground can easily become blurred when the scenery changes, whereas drawing on the sky will remain intact and precise no matter how the landscape may alter.
As aerial photos reveal, the real attraction of the skyline is in the illusion that it creates. This is especially true when looking at mountains, sea stacks and other natural formations that seem to break the normal horizontal lines that we usually observe. In a way aerial photographs serve as a reminder of the boundless space that exists above and around us, and help us to appreciate the illusion that we have about the Earth.
Many people create skylines by connecting straight lines between points on the ground. Straight lines can then be connected to the points of interest on the top of the mountain and from there to the city. Other people prefer to connect straight lines by connecting the points of interest along the sea or lake with those on the land. The choices for connecting aerial photos of mountains and other points of interest are almost limitless, and the sky may offer as many options as it does skies. When the sky and the ground do not quite match, an artistic bend of the eye can usually make up the difference. Achieving some degree of technical finesse in drawing skylines is not difficult, but it will take some practice and patience.
If you find you are becoming impatient while rendering the final skyline, try a few different versions until you find the look you like. Also, consider the perspective you will be using with the skyline. For instance, if you are looking up at the mountains from a higher location, the verticality of your perspective will need to be adjusted. This may mean making the mountain seem shorter or increasing the number of mountains in the line. It is also advisable to reduce the size of the mountain to better fit the perspective and add more depth to the skyline. This can also be done simply by reducing the size of the image you are working with in Photoshop, thereby creating a blur-free finish.